Abstract

Optical switches are among the essential building blocks in optical networks due to their unique role in routing data. In this Letter, for the first time to our knowledge, we have exploited a high-quality factor (Q) optical microresonator combined with the well-known irreversible dielectric breakdown phenomenon to introduce a simple field-programmable on/off optical switch. This simple unit can be thought of as a building block for more complex optical systems with different functionalities. By using this simple unit we have demonstrated an optical field-programmable 2×2 switch. After the device is programmed by the user, no external electrical signal is needed to maintain the state of the device. The same approach can readily be adopted to design a field-programmable arbitrary N×N optical switch.

© 2014 Optical Society of America

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